News Column

Annual Historical/Hysterical Parade Closes Santa Fe Fiesta

Sept. 10, 2012

Robert Nott

The first parade spectators to show up along the Paseo de Peralta leg were the combined members of the Tapia, Delgado, Padilla and Jimenez families, who set up a tent, tables and a barbecue grill in a business parking lot in the 300 block of Paseo de Peralta about 8 a.m. Sunday. They figure this is about their 15th year in a row to join forces to visit, reminisce and watch the city of Santa Fe's annual Historical/Hysterical Parade.

This year's parade, which started about 12:30 p.m. near the DeVargas Center at the intersection of Guadalupe Street and Paseo de Peralta, featured more than 100 floats, cars, trucks and horses and lasted more than 90 minutes. As in years past, this popular Fiesta event drew a sizable crowd of tourists and locals. Around the Plaza, for instance, the spectator grouping was about five-people deep. The parade moved from Guadalupe to East Alameda to Sandoval Street and then up Palace Avenue before heading back down Paseo de Peralta to return to the DeVargas Center area.

Toddlers and teens lined up along the route to cheer, clap, scream out to friends, or put their hands out with hope of receiving the candy and trinkets that parade participants distributed.

The Salvation Army had a giving pot on its float that was large enough to fit a human. There was a float with zombies, a float with mariachis, floats with drummers, floats with rappers, and lots of cars and trucks advertising businesses, politicians, and religions.

Local schools were represented in a big way with bands, dancers and athletes. It seems you couldn't turn around without witnessing a street demonstration of student volleyball, boxing or cheerleaders performing back flips and other feats of acrobatic derring-do -- which the crowd enjoyed.

Santa Fe Community College's roughly 20-foot long float featured giant Legos in various colors made out of cardboard boxes, cardboard tubing and duct tape. The theme: "Building Student Success." According to community outreach coordinator Colette Lee, "It's very important to be part of the community, and this is one of the biggest community events in Santa Fe." Also, what with college students walking alongside the float, younger children watching can be encouraged to continue their education beyond high school, she said.

Fred Sandoval had his rusty 1932 Ford -- a "rat rod," he called it -- ready to go over on Paseo de Peralta way before the parade was to begin. He just bought it a month ago from a dealer in Missouri. "It's one of the oldest rat rods you can find," he said. "The key of it is to get it to run."

"Show us it can run!" a bystander yelled out -- and Sandoval did, revving up the engine.

Schoolchildren from Santo Nino Regional Catholic School chose The Secret Garden, based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's book, as a theme for their flower-filled float. "It inspires reading," said sixth-grader Kennedy Vakharia. Her mom, Lisa Vakharia, who is director of advancement for the school, said taking part in this annual parade is "part of our community service; to remind our children that they have to participate in the city's culture."

Meanwhile, the Santa Fe Police Department was going to Burn Zozobra Again with its float, featuring a lifelike Zozobra -- played by Sgt. Bruce Pratz -- once again perishing in flames, which were, in this case, made up of red ribbons blown by a fan. "The police burn Zozobra every day to keep the city safe," said Pratz, who added that Zozobra serves as a metaphor for the ill feelings -- including criminal intent -- that exist throughout the year.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church's float showcased "Past, Present, and Future Saints." As youth minister Andy Lopez explained it, the float depicts the story of three saints: Saint John, Saint Theresa "The Little Flower," and the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. "Our parade is based on faith," Lopez said. "The proclamation for it speaks of processions, vespers and Mass. We are all here to glorify God. We all aspire to become saints."

Former Santa Fe Fiesta Council president Tony Lopez presided over the parade as it passed through the Plaza, introducing each float, engaging in banter with the participants, and doing his best to keep the vehicles rolling along at a steady clip. Members of the Santa Fe Fiesta Royalty rode by on horses, and fiesta councils and court members from the Northern New Mexico towns of Espanola, Las Vegas and Taos joined in the festivities, too.

Among the loyal viewers were the Tapia/Delgado/Padilla/Jimenez collective, with members ranging in age from 2-year-old Santiago Loya to 62-year-old Mary Lou Tapia, who said the theme of this year's gathering is, "We get to gossip."

As Isabel Jimenez noted, Fiesta weekend events including this parade seem to be fading into the past: "It's changed a lot; you can't find many things like this anymore," she said.

The city's official 300th celebration of Fiesta came to an end Sunday evening.

Source: (c)2012 The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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